Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Osteric, Lara. Review of Robert Clewis, THE KANTIAN SUBLIME AND THE REVELATION OF FREEDOM. NDPR (December 2009).

Clewis, Robert R. The Kantian Sublime and the Revelation of Freedom. Cambridge: CUP, 2009. Clewis's book The Kantian Sublime and the Revelation of Freedom presents a new challenge for those who criticize Kant's moral theory for its "rigor" and its insufficient recognition of the relevance of sensibility and emotions in human moral life. While being, as he himself admits, less interested in the logical features of the judgment of the sublime, Clewis examines how the feeling of the sublime and aesthetic enthusiasm share phenomenological and structural affinities with the moral feeling of respect, and thus prepare us for the exercise of our moral agency. Clewis also reconsiders the widely accepted typology of the Kantian sublime, its standard division into the "mathematical" and "dynamical" sublime, and suggests that there is a third type of the sublime, namely, the "moral sublime". By the moral sublime Clewis understands the effect on consciousness that the realization of the moral law has when observed aesthetically. On Clewis's view, "aesthetic enthusiasm" is a subset of the moral sublime elicited by an empirical event that serves as a sign of a moral tendency of humanity. Clewis argues that aesthetic enthusiasm may help us understand better how Kant's discussion of the sublime contributes to the central concern of the third Critique, that is, the so-called transition problem from freedom to nature. Thus, Clewis's book attempts to show that for Kant the sublime does not only make us aware of our purposiveness as autonomous moral agents (i.e., our moral vocation), but also, just like aesthetic and teleological judgments, of nature's purposiveness. Thus, I take it that Clewis's book attempts to convince us that the sublime does not remain "a mere appendix" to Kant's systematic interests in the third Critique as some commentators have argued. . . . Read the whole review here: http://ndpr.nd.edu/review.cfm?id=18327.

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